Proper Weightlifting Form and Protocol

“What is that person doing?” … one question asked by many when newly introduced into the world of weights. Unless you are fully immersed in all things gym and lifting, you may have seen or noted some trends that make little to no sense. Lifting and bodybuilding are an art form with unique trends and routines. To help clear up some confusion let’s review 3 unique hit-it-hard “habits” that are purposeful in the strategies of making “gains.”

The most notable and defining “oddity” of a lifter is likely their giant gallon of water in tote. In order to effectively hydrate to the needs of what the diet demands, weight lifters drink copiously to fully hydrate tissue and to ensure adequate flushing of the body systems. Being fully hydrated at the cellular level is a must for muscle growth, fat loss, tissue recovery and repair, as well as and helps reduce tissue injury. Additionally, hydration is essential for focus and energy as well as mood. According to the Journal of Nutrition,”[being] dehydrated (mean loss of 1.36% body mass), vigor, fatigue, and aggregate mood, were adversely affected.” Water requirements per day can vary based on weight, activity level, climate, and more, though usually sum up to around 1 gallon; calculations can be used for more accuracy. Carrying the jug around isn’t just for show and I can assure you that the more you must lug it around, the quicker you try to lighten the load and drink up!

With my hectic daily demands, the only time you will see me standing or “resting” is between sets in the gym! If you take notice in the gym, you will observe persons on their phone and hovering near a machine; they aren’t “not training” or “so involved in the social media that they are wasting time at the gym”. Rest intervals are beneficial and purposeful between sets, though the standard should be a short few minutes such as two to five depending on training intensity or the overall lifting goal. After your muscles have exhausted during a set, rest helps the muscle tissue and the body re-energize with action producing chemicals (called ATP).  This “re-boot” of energy substance will maximize the muscles strength and therefore gains. Mentally, your body will also be less aware of the exhaustion and exertion of exercise after a short break, so your mental motivation improves along with your stamina after the pause leading to a boost your next set’s effectiveness.

Let’s not forget that strength training is a brief visit to the gym overall with a specific muscle target each time rather than “training all day”.  Training for “too long” such as 2 or 3 hours can over train the body and set back mechanisms that develop lean muscle growth as the body is overly worked and stressed. Effective strength training can be completed within 30 minutes to 1 hour. When you observe someone concentrating on arms for an hour, they aren’t spending the next 4-5 hours to do a whole-body training session. They will rest the arm muscle groups and target a different area the next day for another hour; for example, one day is biceps and triceps so the following will be something like legs so that the “spent” muscles can recover and subsequently grow.

You don’t have to be a serious competitor to benefit from the knowledge of how to more effectively grow muscle and be efficient in training. Knowing these secrets to success can help you be healthier, stronger, enjoy a more effective and efficient training time, as well as help minimize injury. The muddy water may not be much clearer, but at least some of the confusion may be eliminated with this “lifting lesson” so that you can maximize muscle strength and function on your next workout!